Pollinator Resources

Purpose of the Pollinator Resources Page

When the Shrub Steppe Restoration Manual for the Columbia River Basin was compiled in 2011 it didn’t contain any guidance specific to restoring or enhancing pollinator habitat. Rather, it promoted pollinator habitat restoration in general by helping restoration projects bring sites as much as possible into alignment with historic conditions.  

With the listing of iconic pollinator species like the western monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act there is growing interest in and emphasis on integrating pollinator-specific actions into restoration project designs.  Likewise, state agencies have been directed to increase the emphasis on pollinator species when designing and funding restoration projects.  Along with increased interest in pollinators there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of information available about pollinator management.  Thus, the following resources have been identified that restoration practitioners can draw upon to better address the needs of pollinators.  Our hope is to update this page over time as more resources become available.

This page doesn’t supplant the general guidance in the Shrub Steppe Restoration Manual for the Columbia River Basin which focuses on helping people identify historic conditions and describes method for successfully establishing desired vegetation.  This page points to resources that restoration practitioners can use to:

  • Identify priority pollinator species in their project vicinity
  • Identify the special needs of pollinator species including
    • Nectar and host plant species requirements
    • Nesting and overwinter site needs
    • Pollinator phenology to aid in scheduling maintenance activity for low impact
  • Find the latest guidance on how to best establish and maintain nectar sources
  • Identify in-house experts when needing technical support     

In-House Pollinator Recovery Resources

WDFW has established a Pollinator Species Lead.  Julie Combs can provide technical support and direct wildlife area managers to best management practice resources when planning and implementing restoration projects.

Other in-house resources:

Kurt Merg.  Kurt Merg is the Shrub Steppe Restoration Coordinator and has long provided technical support within WDFW for ecological restoration of shrub steppe and grassland habitats.  Kurt can help you to select and procure appropriate plant materials for a project and can advise you about how to get them established successfully.  In his new role, Kurt can also help you acquire material, labor and funding for restoration or rehabilitation of shrub steppe, especially after fire.

Mary Linders.  While Mary Linders specializes in west-Cascades prairie species like Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies she may be able to help with questions regarding to best management practice resources when planning and implementing restoration projects.


External Resources

The Xerces Society is an excellent resource.  Their Pollinator Conservation Resource Center for Pacific Northwest provides information related to assessing habitats, recommended plant lists and directory of plant materials vendors.  Their website also contains a large publications library with documents that are specific to pollinator restoration and management in Washington.  Below are links to many of the documents that are most relevant to Washington.  

Bumble Bee Resources

The Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas:  Summary and Species Accounts.  This document shows restoration project designers how to identify different bumble bee species, maps their distributions and characterizes their relative abundance, identifies the phenology for each species, describes the habitat associations for each species and provides information about host plant species.

Habitat Management for Bumble Bees in the Pacific Northwest.  This guide provides information to help land managers ensure that they address all of the life cycle needs of bumble bees including foraging, nesting and overwintering habitat.  It also provides restoration method recommendations based on lessons learned based on case studies – including work on WDFW lands.  Finally, it provides insights into the effects of prescribed fire, grazing, mowing, invasive plant control and managed honeybees on native pollinators.  

Conserving Bumble Bees.   This document discusses the importance of pollinators, details the threats they face and provide information on creating, restoring, and managing high quality habitat. It also describes how traditional land management practices can be altered to better meet the needs of bumble bees.

Monarchs and Milkweed

A Guide to Native Milkweeds of Washington.  This guide help one identify Washington’s native milkweed species which are an important resource for monarch butterflies.

Managing for Monarchs in the West.  This document provides recommendations for managing monarch breeding and migratory habitat.

Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Recommendations.  Conservation recommendations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for protecting and recovering the western population of monarch. 

Milkweeds and Monarchs in the Western U.S.   This is an introduction to milkweeds and monarchs in the western U.S.

Monarch Nectar Plants: Inland Northwest.  While primarily written for gardeners, this guide provides plant lists that could also be used when implementing large-scale monarch restoration projects.

Native Milkweed Planting and Establishment in the Western United States.  Contains information on howe to grow milkweed.

General Guidance Related to Vegetation Management for Pollinators.

Plants for Pollinators in the Inland Northwest. This NRCS Technical Note provides guidance for the design and implementation of conservation plantings to enhance habitat for pollinators in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, and northern Idaho.

Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner's Guide.  This guide identifies and provides management recommendations for thistles which are important pollinator resources. 

Maintaining Diverse Wildflowers Planted for Pollinators (PDF).  While tailored to small wildflower patches in an agricultural setting, this guide provides helpful insights on how to maintain diversity in established sites.   

Best Management Practices for Pollinators on Western Rangelands.  The best management practices were developed for federally managed rangelands that span the eleven western states including Washington relating to grazing, mowing, prescribed fire, and pesticide use, as well as recommendations on how to address pollinators in restoration projects, invasive nonnative invasive plant management, managed pollinators (honeybee apiaries on public land), recreation, and climate change impacts. The document also provides an introductory overview of major pollinator groups, their conservation status, tables detailing native pollinator phenology and habitat requirements.